MORNINGTON Peninsula farmers and animal producers may soon be protected from animal activists trespassing on their properties and shutting down their livelihood.
The issue was highlighted earlier this year when animal activists occupied a Tyabb chicken farm.
The Crimes Amendment (Trespass) Bill 2019, introduced into the state Legislative Council by Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman last week aims to “enhance protections offered to industries pertaining to animal enterprise and animal recreational activities” once it is passed.
After several incidents involving animal activists entering businesses and farms, the issue was referred to a house committee to inquire into and report on a response, if any was needed.
Despite it going to committee, Mr Bourman said he was keen to press ahead with draft legislation: “I understand this issue is before a committee, but we don’t need a committee to know there is a problem that needs to be fixed,” he said.
“I don’t need an inquiry to tell me what is right and that what has been going on for decades is a problem and what will need to be done to fix it.
“The state of Victoria needs to change its archaic trespass laws to reflect modern times and modern problems.”
Mr Bourman’s bill aims to enhance protections to animal-related industries and create specific offences relating to trespass on land with intent to interfere with activities involving animals.
It will also increase penalties for new offences relating to trespass to be “in line with current community expectations”. This will include but not be limited to mandatory minimum non-parole sentences. “Current sentencing for related crimes has been widely criticised, given the gravity of the offences, for not being sufficient,” Mr Bourman said.
“Extremist animal activism is not a peaceful protest movement, it is a hostile and aggressive activist movement that is invading people’s workplaces, which in many instances are also their homes, as well as aggressively confronting anyone who engages in any activity they don’t like.
“They have taken the movement from the town square and public land onto private land and into people’s homes.”
Mr Bourman said: “We are all entitled to a safe work environment which in most farming cases is a home. We are entitled to be free from unauthorised and illegal surveillance equipment in our workplaces, we are entitled to go to work without the threat of activists busting in, either overtly or covertly.”